Uber, Grab issue stimulates lively debate in Dewan Rakyat

Michael-Jeyakumar-Devaraj--liew-grab-uber-1KUALA LUMPUR: The debate on the Land Public Transport Act Amendment to regulate Uber and Grab services started today and MPs from both sides of the divide are busy pressing the microphone button to voice their views.

The Barisan Nasional (BN) MPs want the services to be regulated well while opposition MPs want the government to lay out long term plans for the taxi industry as part of the amendments.

Dr Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj (PSM-Sungai Siput) raised the issue of rental being paid by taxi drivers.

“On rent, almost 80 per cent have to pay rental on permits, unlike Uber and Grab drivers. So, where is the level playing field,” he asked.

Hearing this, Ahmad Fauzi Zahari (BN-Setiawangsa) said even though taxi drivers have to pay rent, Uber and Grab drivers pay for their car (maintenance, fuel).

“We are not praising e-hailing, we just don’t want it to be illegal. There is no wish to put aside the taxi industry,” Fauzi said.

Liew Chin Tong (DAP-Kluang) chipped in saying he does not have a problem with the government regulating the industry, however, he was just concerned about the future of the taxi industry.

“What are the long term plans for the taxi industry. The issue here is that foreign companies are now setting the price and the rules,” Liew said referring to Uber. Grab, on the other hand, is a local company that has expanded overseas.

Noor Ehsanuddin Mohd Harun (BN-Kota Tinggi) said he is concerned about the taxi industry and the debate was to protect and build the local capacity.

However, Tian Chua (PKR-Batu) said the discussion today seemed to be focusing on regulating illegal drivers (kereta sapu).

“It is about foreign companies monopolising (local market in Malaysia). With technology they can control local companies. We should protect local companies,” Tian Chua said.

However, Noor Azmi Ghazali (BN-Bagan Serai) reminded Liew that 75% of Malaysians live in urban areas with the younger generation owning smartphones, saying the people have accepted Uber and Grab.

He said the world is moving towards shared economy where those with cars could earn extra money or those with extra rooms could rent out their premises.

Liew then proposed for a tribunal to be set up for taxi drivers to allow them to give suggestions and to list down their complaints.

“Now they go to their taxi company who will ask them to hire a lawyer. But they don’t have money to do that,” Liew said.

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